Schools of Hindu Law by Yaminee Verma @LEXCLIQ

India is a nation that comprises of many religions and the people of different religions have different personal laws applicable to them. Hindu law is the personal law that governs the people belonging to Hindu religion. It is a collection of various other laws applicable to Hindu people that are collectively called as Hindu Law. Since ancient time, it was seen that one authority that was followed in some part India was not followed in other part of India. The people who followed one authority refused to accept the other authorities. That’s when different schools of Hindu law emerged that described the varied opinions of the people following different authorities. This article talks about the different schools of Hindu law in detail.

Schools of Hindu Law

The two main schools of Hindu law are:

  1. Mitakshara
  2. Dayabhaga

These two schools have played a crucial role in the making of the present legislated acts.

Origin of the Schools

Schools of Hindu law came into existence when different people interpreted the Smritis (Smritis are texts that were remembered and written down by scholars) with reference to different local customs of India.

In Rutcheputty v. Rajendra, it has been observed that the different schools of Hindu Law have originated due to different local customs prevailing in different parts of India. The commentators of the Smritis considered all the local customs and usages while interpreting the texts, and therefore, they eventually incorporated local customs into a new thought form. The local conditions and customs of the different regions have, therefore, gone to mould the principles of law prevailing in each region.

Mitakshara School:

Mitakshara is one of the most important schools of Hindu law. This school is popular in almost whole part of India except in the states of West Bengal and Assam. Different parts of the country follow Mitakshara school differently due to change in cultures and traditions in every region.

Mitakshara school is further divided into five sub-schools namely:

  1. Benaras Hindu law school
  2. Mithila law school
  3. Maharashtra law school
  4. Punjab law school
  5. Dravida or Madras law school

Dayabhaga School:

This school of Hindu law was found mostly in West Bengal and Assam. It mainly focuses on partition, inheritance and joint family. One of the main benefits of this school is that it removed all the limitations on inheritance that were set by the Mitakshara school of Hindu law.

Different commentaries followed under Dayabhaga school are:

  1. Dayatatya
  2. Dayakram-sangrah
  3. Virmitrodaya
  4. Dattaka Chandrika

Difference between ‘Mitakshara’ and ‘Dayabhaga’ Schools of Hindu Law:

  1. Joint Family: – Under Mitakshara school, only male members of the joint family have ownership rights in a property. But under Dayabhaga school, both male and female members enjoy the ownership right equally.
  2. Right to ownership: – Under Mitakshara school, the members acquire right to ownership on birth but in Dayabhaga school, members acquire right to ownership only on the death of the Karta i.e., the male head of the family.
  3. Partition: –In the Mitakshara system none of the members of the coparceners can claim a definite physical share of the joint property. So, partition in this system involves in ascertaining and defining the share of the coparcener i.e.  only the numerical division of the property. In the Dayabhaga school each of the coparcener has a definite share in the joint family property even though the family undivided and the possession is common. So, partition in this system involves the physical separation of the joint property into the separate shares of the coparceners and each of the coparcener is assigned specific portion of the property.
  4. Rights of Woman: – In the Mitakshara system, since the females don’t have any right in the property, the wife of a coparcener cannot demand partition. She however has the right to a share in any partition affected between her husband and her sons. Under the Dayabhaga system, this right does not exist because the no one can demand partition as the father is the absolute owner of the property.

In both the systems, in any partition among the sons, the mother is entitled to a share equal to that of a son. Similarly, when a son dies before partition leaving the mother as his heir, the mother is entitled to a share of her deceased son as well as share in her own right when there is a partition between the remaining sons.

Conclusion: – Both the schools, Mitakshara and Dayabhaga have played an important role in the legislation of many laws in today’s India under the collective term for all called the Hindu law.

Written by Yaminee Verma @LEXCLIQ

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